Sea Surface Temperatures

Over 70% of Earth’s surface area is ocean, which plays a major role in regulating Earth’s climate system. Much of the heat trapped by increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas levels is absorbed by the ocean, causing ocean temperatures to rise.
Over 70% of Earth’s surface area is ocean, which plays a major role in regulating Earth’s climate system. Much of the heat trapped by increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas levels is absorbed by the ocean, causing ocean temperatures to rise.

Global sea surface temperatures are rising

During the past three decades, sea surface temperatures have exceeded the last century’s average every year and have been higher than at any other time since records began.
The bars on the graph show the number of degrees by which the average sea surface temperature for each year differs from the average sea surface temperature during the last century.

About Sea Surface Temperatures

The data shown represent temperatures in the upper 10 meters of the ocean and were drawn from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) NOAAGlobalTemp dataset.
Why It's Important
  • Changes in sea surface temperatures reflect the overall warming trend in the climate system and, in turn, influence weather and climate patterns worldwide. 
  • Sea surface temperature data can be used to understand the response of the ocean to
    global warming The observed increase in average temperature near the Earth’s surface and in the lowest layer of the atmosphere. In common usage, “global warming” often refers to the warming that has occurred as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities. Global warming is a type of climate change; it can also lead to other changes in climate conditions, such as changes in precipitation patterns.
    and, in turn, how that response may influence other changes in climate.